How to use your own domain when using Simplelists

For those of you with a multiple list account, you have the option to use your own domain rather than simplelists.com. You can add more than one domain and you have the freedom to brand the email system as your own. If you combine this with branding your landing pages (as we showed you in a previous blog), your emails will be very professional and aligned to your brand/image.

Using your own domain with simplelists

Setting up your own domain

Log in to your multiple list account, click on ‘General Settings’ and then select the ‘Domains’ tab. Type in your domain name and click ‘Add’. In the list that appears next, set your domain name as ‘primary’. You should then be able to view your new email addresses on the ‘List members’ page.

Configure your MX records

After you have added your domain name, you need to configure the mail exchange records associated with it. You do this via your web hosting control panel. In your panel, set the Primary MX record to ‘mx1.simplelists.com’ and the Secondary MX record to ‘mx2.simplelists.com’. You will find a step by step guide for doing this in cPanel in this short video. Please be aware that it can take up to 72 hours for the changes to come into effect. How long it takes depends on your web hosting settings.

Improve deliverability

There are also some things you can do to improve the deliverability of your messages. SPF records prevent spammers from sending messages with false/forged email addresses from your domain. DKIM records help to verify the sender and show that a message has not been altered on its way to the recipient.

If you choose to use your own domain with Simplelists, we recommend that you add both of these DNS records to your domain. When logged into your Simplelists multiple lists account, navigate to ‘General Settings’ and the ‘Domains’ tab. Scroll down to find the details you’ll need to add the DNS records. Then, open your web hosting control panel and complete the required fields for the SPF and DKIM records. You can see instructions for how to do this using cPanel in this short video.

All of these instructions can be viewed in two short videos on a previous post on our blog.

How to keep your marketing emails out of the spam folder

It has been estimated that just under 80% of emails sent by email marketers to people who signed up to your list reach the inbox. This is a pretty staggering number when your recipients have subscribed legitimately. This is because spam filters are becoming increasingly sensitive to make sure that non-legitimate emails do not get delivered. To avoid your email ending up in the spam folder, there are some simple things you can do.

email marketing and spam

Have a good email list

It is important that you make sure that the people you are emailing want to hear from you. We do not recommend that you buy or rent email lists that you can’t trust the source of, and it’s crucial that your list members have opted in to receiving your correspondence.

The easiest and most common way to do this is to get them to subscribe to a mailing list, either via a website or links on social media. You can assume that, if people visit your site, they are likely to be interested in the information/product you provide. You could add a sign-up box on all of your pages to allow users to join the list.

Ask your recipients to put you on their contact list

It is pretty much guaranteed that emails are delivered to the inbox if your list members have added you to their address book/contact list. In your welcome/first email you could ask them to add you to their contact list. You could also ask them to do this in the body of other emails that you send.

Mind the subject line

It is important to take care with the subject line of your email as it can affect the likelihood of your email avoiding the spam folder.  We have written another short post on how to write a good subject line – the key message is that it should not be too much longer than 35 to 50 characters. The longer the subject line, the more likely it is that the email will go to the spam folder.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

While this might sound counter-intuitive, making the unsubscribe link visible on your emails can actually help overall deliverability to your list. It is preferable that your recipients choose to unsubscribe themselves, rather than marking your email as spam.

Email providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and others keep track of spam complaints and may penalise you, affecting how many of your other emails are delivered. If you make it easy for your list members to unsubscribe, the risk of the email service provider blocking all the emails you send is minimised.

Don’t forget that it is important to understand that there are laws governing the sending of emails to a list – you can read more about email spam and the law in one of our earlier posts.

Using Simplelists for e-mail marketing

 

Email

Why is email marketing important?

There are many types of marketing: search engine optimistion (SEO), social media marketing (for example, on Twitter and Facebook), marketing via a website, advertising, email marketing and more. The serious business person is likely to be using several of these. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses  – so, why use email marketing?

  1. It’s direct - this means that when you send an email it goes directly to the recipients email inbox. This gives you the opportunity to get the full attention of your customer.
  2. It’s targeted - you can decide who you will send your emails to and tailor your email for the people that receive them. You can also send different emails to different types/groups of customers.
  3. Convert visitors to customers - when people look at websites, most don’t buy from the first website they see. We tend to visit several websites and also research the area further, collecting information from several websites and returning to buy when we are ready – perhaps after several days or weeks. Often people will remember the shop they visit and e-mail marketing can really help here.
  4. Encourage repeat business - customers that have bought from your site/shop before are more likely to come back. You can use email marketing to reach out to them directly about new offers, products or services and turn a one off customer into a regular one.

Why use Simplelists?

Simplelists can help you do great email marketing:

It’s simple - you needn’t be a techy expert to use the Simplelists interface. You simply write an email and send it to your whole list.

It’s quick - there are plenty of other things to do when you run a business so time is of the essence. If it marketing takes up a lot of your time, you may have some headaches. With Simplelists, you can send an email to all of your customers in just a couple of minutes, which gives you more time for everything else.

Emails get through - there is nothing worse than your marketing emails not getting through to your customers. Simplelists have better deliverability than email clients and free providers. You can read more about this on our blog here.

Your emails do not include advertising - many free group email providers place adverts on your emails so that they can advertise to your customers. This doesn’t look great and can have a negative effect on your business. There are no adverts sent with Simplelists emails.

You can send HTML emails - with Simplelists you have the option to design emails using HTML. This means that you aren’t constrained to templates so your emails can look exactly how you like. Of course you don’t have to use HTML – you can send simple text emails too. For more information about sending HTML emails, visit our blog here.

Overview of the Members Area – Multiple List account

In our last post, we shared a video that provides an overview of the Members’ Area, for Single List account holders. This time, we look at the Members’ Area for Multiple List account holders – see the video and transcript below.

Video transcript

The previous video gave an overview of the Member’s Area for Single List account holders. In this video, we’ll look at Multiple List accounts.

Once you’re logged in, you can access Multiple List accounts from the accounts menu at the top right of the page. Moving to the left hand side of the page, you can see the main menu. Note that this is broken into two sections: General and Lists.

The address book stores all the members of all your lists. You can also add and approve members, and download your members’ details here.

Individual lists are managed by selecting ‘manage lists’. You can create new lists, delete lists, and move or copy members from one list to another. Members of specific lists are managed by selecting ‘list members’. You can add members from your address book to individual lists. Members who have completed email confirmation are shown in green, while those who are yet to confirm are shown in red.

In the list settings section, you can manage settings for each individual list. You can add moderators, manage permissions and restrictions, customise list emails, and choose the details that list members see when they view their emails.

The archives enables full management of email archives for each of your lists. You can enable or disable archives and offer protected viewing, which allows only selected users to view archives.

The general settings section is used to manage your multiple list account. You can customise your landing pages, such as sign up pages and email archives.

You can manage subscription settings. For example, you can enable or disable new subscriptions, and select whether new subscriptions require approval. You can customise your confirmation email and write a message that users receive when they confirm their email address. You can add your own domain so that it replaces Simplelists.com. This enables you to brand the entire system as your own.

Aliases can be used to forward emails to different email addresses. You can forward to normal email addresses, as well as to other lists.

The approval section shows emails that area waiting to be approved. When you grant approval, the emails will be sent.

The bounces section shows email addresses that emails have bounced back from, such as email addresses that don’t exist.

That’s the overview of the Multiple List account holders Members’ Area – Simple!

How to whitelist email addresses in Gmail

We have written on this blog before about the importance of email deliverability and what we do to ensure your emails reach their recipients. Spam filters implemented by different email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) are becoming increasingly sensitive, to make sure that non-legitimate, spam emails aren’t delivered. Ensuring emails are delivered to the inbox is pretty much guaranteed if your list members have ‘whitelisted’ you. This means, simply, that you (as the sender) have been added to their list of ‘approved’ or ‘safe senders’. Different email clients carry out the whitelisting process in different ways and use different terminology. In this short post, we explain how to whitelist email addresses in Gmail.

Whitelist Gmail

Safe sender’

Gmail is pretty efficient at identifying non-important and potentially harmful emails that you probably don’t want to open. However, it isn’t 100% correct all of the time and, to make sure important emails never end up in the Gmail spam folder, you can tell Gmail that emails from a particular sender are safe, allowing those messages to pass through the filter. If important emails keep getting sent to your spam folder in Gmail, you need to add email addresses to the safe senders list to whitelist them.

Set up a filter

In Gmail, it is possible to set up ‘filters’ to whitelist a sender (or senders). You can apply a filter to a specific email address, a whole domain, or a mix of both. First of all, click on the gear icon in your inbox and select ‘Settings’ from the menu. Then, select the ‘Filters and blocked addresses’ tab when viewing the Settings menu. Click the link called ‘Create a new filter’ (if you have a lot of filters in place already you’ll see this at the bottom of the list, like in the diagram below). Select ‘Never send it to spam’. This will make sure emails that match the filter description will always reach the inbox.

How to whitelist email in Gmail

Filtering a specific email address or a whole domain

In the ‘From’ field, enter the email address in full that you would like the filter to apply to. If you want to filter a specific email address, write the whole address, like ‘johnsmith@emailbusiness.com’. If you want to whitelist all emails from a specific domain, you can just type ‘@emailbusiness.com’ to put all emails from this domain on the list of safe senders. There are other options but the ‘From’ field must be filled out.

Filtering more than one email or domain

You do not need to repeat these steps for multiple emails and/or domains. A handy tip is to put a vertical bar (Shift and then the backslash ‘\’ key, with a space before and after it) between the separate emails you wish to filter. For example: johnsmith@emailbusiness.com | janesmith@emailbusiness.com | simonsmith@emailbusiness.com.

Alternatively…

You can also filter messages directly from an email as you receive it. So, if you find an important email in your Spam folder, which should have come to the Inbox, you can open it and then apply the filter so it ends up in the right place next time. When you have the email open, click on the vertical dots in the right hand corner and then select ‘Filter messages like these’ (see below).

Whitelist Gmail 2

The email address of the sender will then be auto-filled in the next form in the ‘From’ field and you can create a filter from there, as before.

Don’t forget

It is worth knowing that when you whitelist an email or domain in Gmail, the filter does not work retrospectively. That is, it does not apply to emails that are already in the Spam/Trash folders.

How to insert a member’s name into emails

When you send emails to your list using Simplelists it is possible to insert members’ names into the emails. This personalises the message and allows recipients to see their name in the short email preview they may see in their inbox. This short post explains how to use this feature.

Insert names into emails

Activate the feature

First of all, activate this feature for your Simplelists account by sending an email to support@simplelists.com to request the ‘activate the insert names feature’.

Enter the correct text when composing your message

When you write your message to your list, insert $FIRSTNAME in your email in the exact place(s) you would like the member’s first name to appear. If you want their surname to appear as well, write $SURNAME where you want this to be.

If you do this, each member of your list will received a personalised email which includes their name.

An example

Dear $FIRSTNAME,

Thank you for joining our group. You will received monthly updates and…etc. 

If you don’t know their name

If a member’s first and/or last name is not included in your address book, you can request your preferred default name to be used instead. When you contact us to activate the ‘insert name’ feature, let us know your preference for a default option. For example, you could choose ‘Member’, ‘Customer’ or ‘Group Member’.

If you do this, in a case where you didn’t know the first name, the above example would read:

Dear Member,

Thank you for joining our group. You will received monthly updates and…etc. 

When should you use this feature?

Personalising emails is recognised as increasingly important for email marketing. For example, many mail clients show the first 10-20 words of a message in the inbox before the email is opened. At a glance, readers can therefore see immediately whether an email addresses them by name or not. If their name isn’t there, they may be more tempted to delete the message as they would deem it unimportant or irrelevant.

For this reason, we recommend that you use the ‘insert name’ feature in all your email marketing messages. Even if you are not using your emails for marketing purposes, inserting members’ names will help people to engage more with your list and feel a sense of involvement in the group.

Segmenting your email lists

 

If you’re using Simplelists for email marketing, you should be aware that segmenting your email list is one of the best ways to boost the effectiveness of any email marketing campaigns that you run. This is because you can ensure that the email suits your client’s specific interest(s) and increase the likelihood that they open your email and respond to your call to action.

If you are using Simplelists for private groups discussions, you may already be pretty familiar with the segments of your list. If it’s something you want to think about some more, or run a specific marketing campaign, here are four tips for email segmentation to help you get the results you want.

Email list segmentation

1. Split your list into groups that are alike

Your email recipients aren’t all alike and there are very likely to be groups (or segments) that exist in your list. Are there age groups that might respond differently to your call to action, or are there particular interests that you could focus on? Each group will need its own email stream with content that suits the reader. Common groups tend to fall under four headings:

  • geography (location, language, climate, etc.);
  • demography (age, gender, income, etc.);
  • psychology (lifestyle, opinions, values, etc.); and
  • behaviour (purchase usage, buyer stage, user status, etc.).

2. Recognise that there are stages at which people interact with you

Your list members will require different information, depending on how long they have interacted with your business/activity. For example, someone who has visited your website once and subscribed to your email list will need different information to a long-term customer who is very familiar with your products and/or activities.

3. Build credibility

Segmenting and personalising your emails shows the recipient that you are interested in more than just selling to them. Instead, you take the time to get to know them as well as looking into their needs and interests.

4. Go beyond the obvious

You don’t need to think only about people’s interests now and what other groups they fit into at this time. You could have a think about what they might aspire to them in the future with regards and goods or services that might appeal to them. You could also think about using ‘negative data’ i.e. if they prefer one brand, they might be likely to be disinterested in another.

GDPR and updated terms and conditions

You are no doubt aware that the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. Your inbox was probably full of messages from the various organisations and groups that hold your contact details, checking whether you still wish to receive messages from them and/or updating you about their privacy policy. Our members received an email explaining how Simplelists is complying with the regulation and we have shared that information here on our blog as well.

Simplelists GDPR

What is GDPR for?

The regulation aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.

Who is affected?

GDPR affects Simplelists customers either based in the EU and/or who have list members in the EU.

What has Simplelists done to comply with the legislation?

In order to comply with the legislation, and to also to make it easier for our customers to comply with it, we have updated our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. The new documents are available on our website in the footer of every page. As a general rule, the updates strengthen your rights, but if you do have any questions about the changes then please let us know. You can find our contact details here.

What do Simplelists customers need to do to comply with the legislation?

We have also added a GDPR Statement to our website, which will provide more information as to our compliance and how we can help you to comply. This statement is also available from the footer of every page on our website.

Simplelists provides email list hosting services to its customers, and as such is responsible for the secure and compliant processing of personal data related to our customers, as well as the protection of our customers’ information (which may include personal data) whilst it is being processed by one of our systems.

We believe that the new documents should assist those customers that do need to comply, but if you have any specific requirements or general questions, then please get in touch.